A giant theatrical treat for all the family at Guildhall

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New Perspectives Theatre Company are bringing John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway’s classic picture book The Giant Jam Sandwich to the stage this week.

In a brand new production opening in association with Derby Live, it is at Derby’s Guildhall Theatre until February 18.

The story goes… on one hot summer’s day, four million wasps invade the quiet village of Itching Down. The picnickers panic and the famer stops haymaking. The wasps are noisy, nasty and worst of all, they don’t mind who they sting! That is until the baker has an ingenious idea... to trap them in a jam sandwich the size of a mountain.

Lord and Burroway’s classic book has been enjoyed around the world for over 45 years, endlessly translated and adapted for radio, television and large scale orchestra. To date however it has never been adapted for the stage, and New Perspectives are delighted to have the honour to bring Bap the Baker, Farmer Seed and Mayor Muddlenut live to audiences for the first time.

New Perspectives artistic director, Jack McNamara, said: “I read The Giant Jam Sandwich obsessively as a child and have encountered many people since who cite it as their favourite picture book. As a three-year old, I accidentally dug up a wasp’s nest and was covered head-to-toe by an angry swarm. I managed to avoid serious injury, yet this story has served as a consolation to me ever since! I was astounded to learn from John Vernon Lord that in the 45 years since it was written The Giant Jam Sandwich has never been professionally staged in the UK.

“Everything about it chimes with our company ethos; the village hall setting, the Derbyshire birthplace of the writer and the wild imagination of the story.”

Originally from Glossop, author, illustrator and teacher John Vernon Lord’s children’s books have been published widely and translated into several languages. His illustrations for The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear and Aesop’s Fables both won national prizes, including the W.H. Smith/V&A Illustration Award in 1990.

He has just completed a set of illustrations to Joyce’s Ulysses for the Folio Society and has illustrated three books by Lewis Carroll for Artists’ Choice Editions. He was Professor of Illustration at the University of Brighton 1986-99, where he is now Professor Emeritus and is allergic to wasps!

Of this new production, he said: “I was honoured and excited when I heard that New Perspectives wanted to put on a performance of The Giant Jam Sandwich. It was a particular thrill when I heard that it was going to be performed in Derbyshire, the county of my birth, which I am very fond of. I can’t wait to see it.

“I am allergic to wasps so I am glad the performances are out of seasons for wasps and I therefore won’t need to bring my Epipen. Mind you, the performing wasps may be just as terrifying! “

Call the box office on 01332 255800 for ticket details.

Photo by Pamela Raith